To the Uptight Mom at Mom’s Day

Standard

I watched you sit with your five year old working on the gift for his dad. Our kids were the last ones at the table still working. It was no shock it was talking us a while – my daughter was continually grabbing more and more things and I was struggling to feed my upset three month old and also trying to help/ interact with my daughter. “Sure, that looks great!” “Let’s put some more glue,” “ooh, that’s a neat piece, where do you think that should go?” As my daughter jumped up and down to get more things to add to her creation, I caught snippets of your conversation with your son: “that’s a bit much Jason.” “Why don’t you try and line those up in a straight line Jason?” “Let’s make these into a pattern… That doesn’t match the pattern Jason.” I inwardly rolled my eyes. Man, let the kid choose for himself! It’s supposed to be his project and his gift to his dad! It doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s a craft for a five year old. Mellow out.

At that point my daughter finished and we moved over to the card making table, leaving you and Jason. I helped my daughter arrange the cut-outs on the cover and glue them, then she turned to the inside try draw a picture. As she drew, I looked around the room at the other moms. Most of the moms were in jeans and sweaters. A few had t-shirts or nicer slacks. Most had minimal makeup, if any – we’re talking either eye make up or lipstick, but not much more. Most of the hair was in pony tails or buns – pulled out of the face to make playing easier. They all wore sandals, flats or sneakers. I personally had a maxi skirt and T-shirt with my moby wrap and a pair of toms, with hastily pulled back hair and lipstick quickly applied. This was what the moms looked like. But not you. You were wearing a casual black business work suit.  Hair down, but cut short, continually falling in your face, somehow not a single stand out of place. Makeup immaculate – foundation, concealer, lined lips, not just color. You were even wearing heels.

Soon we were called to circle time on the carpet. The teacher told I’d about a song the kids had been listening to that they absolutely loved. It was a freeze sing. You dance and you dance and you FREEZE! So the teachers put it on for all of us to dance to. It was a ton of fun – the kids were hysterical to watch and it really was a silly song. It was funny to see the kids who love dancing and the kids who are just a little self conscious. The moms fell into two categories – those who had fun because it was fun and those who had fun because they were there for their kids tried to get over their embarrassment for the sake of their kids. (For the record, two years ago, I was the second type of mom, barely doing anything, but I’m now the first type because darn it, that was a fun song!) And then there was you – who just stood there, looking at everyone else, way too embarrassed to do anything at all. Okay, I thought, that’s it, you can’t even pretend to care? You can’t get over yourself for one little song? Wow.

Then I watched your son turn around and look at you. He hadn’t been dancing like the other kids. I assumed he was just shy. He turned and looked at you, and you started awkwardly dancing. You smiled big at him and said, “Dance Jason!” Then you kept dancing for him, looking mortified, but caring more that your son had fun than about your feelings.

Then I remembered your son from the day I had a classroom observation. He was the slightly awkward kid – you know, the one who might have ADD or autism or one of those other “isms” or something (no judgement, I promise!). He was a sweet boy, but just needed a little extra help. Suddenly I saw you in a whole new light.

Your outfit, hair, makeup? You were probably headed into work and took the time off to come spend the morning with her son. Not everyone is a stay-at-home mom like most of the moms at this school. The control over the craft? Your son might need extra help with focus and concentration and giving him patterns or ideas might be a way to help him focus. And the lack of dancing? Well, if I worked full time and had a kid with special needs, I’d be pretty stressed out too – I might even feel a bit judged. Just like I had been judging you. I felt awful. You were doing her absolute best for your son and just because you didn’t fit the mold of the other moms that morning I had been a Judgy McJudgerson.

Basically I want to say: Uptight Mom – you rock! You know what your kid needs, and you are awesome for leaving work to spend some time with him. You demonstrated love when you felt judged for your dancing, and if I could only offer one piece of advice, I’d say to dance a bit more; you deserve to let loose every now and then!

School Observation

Standard

Last week I was asked to observe my daughter in her classroom for about an hour. This is standard at the school she attends, and this is the third year I’ve watched her interact with her classmates and teachers. This year I had the added layer of caring for my twoish month old, but he’s an awesome baby, especially when I wear him in my Moby, so it wasn’t a problem at all.

Watching my daughter in class was hilarious. She is by far one of the bossiest kids. She went to the home corner where three other kids were quietly playing and announced loudly, “Who wants to go on an adventure?! Grab your seat, we’re getting in the car!” She then took a chair from the kitchen table and set it up as the driver seat in an imaginary car. The other three kids quickly fell into place setting up the rest of the car. My daughter then decided to pack – throwing all sorts of stuff into the ‘trunk’ (floor) and giving her passengers ‘food’ for the ride. When the teacher called her over to work on her art, my daughter cheerfully skipped away, abandoning the mess she’d made. A few minutes later, the teacher went to check on the kids in the home corner and chastized them for making such a mess and throwing things on the floor. She told them they needed to clean it up and that since they couldn’t respect these things, they couldn’t play with them. NOT ONE kid threw my daughter under the bus! I was sure they’d all blame her, since it was totally her fault. Nope – they all just cleaned it up.

I watched my daughter play with nearly every kid in the classroom. When pushed to do something else, she responded, “No, I don’t want to do that. I’m doing this.” During music time, I watched her yell clarifications to the whole class (including the teachers, “You guys! The song said touch your nose – it didn’t say stop touching your nose, so you should still be touching your nose with that hand.” The teachers ignored her.

But the best part of my day was when I watched my daughter listen quietly during story time as the teacher related the story of the Ethiopian meeting Philip (in Acts). At the end of the story, my daughter raised her hand and waited patiently to be called. The teacher did her very best to ignore my daughter until it was clear she wasn’t going to give up. Once called on, my daughter stated, “And then he was baptized.” … The teacher had forgotten the end of the story. My daughter made sure that wasn’t going to happen, and I was so proud of her for knowing her Bible story.

But wow, is she strong-headed. She’ll make a fantastic leader, provided my husband and I help her learn how to soften her pushiness a bit. She knows what is right and is absolutely confident in who she is. I was very impressed with the time I spent at her school.

This being a Christian school, at the end of the teacher chat, the teachers offer to pray with you over your child. Each year I’ve appreciated their prayers and asked to pray for the teacher as well. I so enjoy being able to bless the teacher with an in-person prayer and have realized that this is something I might be ableto use in coming years at conferences as well. Next year my daughter will attend public school for kindergarten, and I anticipate parent/teacher conferences for many years. I hope that some of those teachers will allow me to pray over them as well, even if they do not share my beliefs. (Would that even be allowed at a conference? I guess I’ll be finding out!).

Last Day of School

Standard

The past month has been a whirlwind. In spite of the fact that I was feeling a bit off (see my post on depression), I had to just chug on, as life just seems to move forward whether we want it to or not. So while I seriously wanted to curl up in a ball with my comfy, cozy blanket and read a book, sleep, or watch netflix until the tv checks to see if I’m still alive, there were mom duties, church duties, and WORK duties. And work this month – ohmygoodness. I had 248 orders in May – that’s 8 orders a day. It was busier that Christmas last year. Or ever, actually. While I sure love the business, it’s been hard to find the time to work as well as parent and recover from the Tea that went awry (again, another post). As of today, my orders are more of less caught up – nothing due out until Friday, though I am trying to get orders out faster than my eta is stated to be. I have 60 orders currently in my queue. I’ve been meeting for VBS (and other church ‘things’) and trying to deal with family struggles.

But in the midst of all this, today was a nice breath of fresh air. After an agonizing decision about whether or not to hold our daughter back or send her into kindergarten (it totally wasn’t a tough decision at all), we decided she’d benefit most from a year of transitional kindergarten (TK), so she’s staying at the same preschool, with the same basic guidelines, leadership, etc. Some of her classmates will be the same. Her teachers will be different, but it will feel familiar. Her two best friends, on the other hand…one is moving to kindergarten. One is doing home-school TK next year – both great choices for those kids! However, today was the last day of school, and that always brings … emotions.

For me, it was sweet. Her teachers were sad to see their kids go. One teacher is getting married (yay!). The kids were SO CUTE in their “patriotic parade” shaking their shaker things (filled with rice or beans or whatever), wearing their red, white, and blue, and marching and waving at the HUGE CROWD (of parents). Their were hugs and gifts, thank yous and photos. Then we were ready to head home. It was pleasant. A nice way to end the school year and start the summer.

last dayFor the parents of my daughter’s friends, the emotions ran a lot higher. There was the realization that the babies weren’t babies any more. That they were headed to real school, leaving their friends, leaving the safety of preschool. After saying goodbye to their teachers, the three girls ran around the corner, stopping at the three yellow poles that mark the end of the corridor, and we all got a bit choked up – the last time these three would run together and play like this. Sure, there will be play dates and visits, but this – THIS EXACT THING – will never happen again.

But that’s silly. This moment (meaning me typing this post outside while my daughter plays in her pool and sandbox) will never happen again. She will always be a little older (as will I), a little different. Things will change, relationships will grow, people will drift apart. While I may feel a brief sadness at the thought of time passing, I look forward to the future, and what joy and promise it holds.

And I do have to say, I am glad of our decision to hold her back another year. Being an adult is hard, and I’m glad our kid has one extra year of being a kid.

Work Party at the Ranch

Standard

This weekend we headed up to the area I grew up in – a tiny community with 73 houses and about 300 residents for my husband’s work party. Instead of renting out a place, they host the party at the boss’s house every year because they just have a really cool house, and even with all the neat stuff they rent for the party (bounce houses, dunk tank, pony rides, catering), it’s still cheaper.

So after the memorial (see Kaleigh), we headed on our adventure – about 1.5 hour drive. We arrived a bit late, but just in time for the egg toss. We made it pretty far into the contest – maybe 4th out of 10 teams? – and luckily, no egg on either of us. We enjoyed some soft serve, got some delicious BBQ ribs and biscuit (and other yummy food), and took our daughter on the bounce house obstacle course for at least 20 minutes. Then we sat and enjoyed watching the associates and secretaries throw balls at the dunk tank in order to dunk the senior partner. (Last year he wore a full suit in the dunk tank, which was awesome, but this year it was just too hot.)

After that, we wandered around a bit more. At this point, my daughter made friends with one of the little girls – a niece of one of the attorneys, I think. Their initial conversation after introductions went like this:

  • I’m four!
  • I’m five!
  • I’m going to be five!
  • I’m going to be six!
  • After I’m five I’m going to be six like you!
  • Well, then I’ll be…

And the other girl was then interrupted by her grandma, who told her she wasn’t six, she was five. I explained their conversation and we all laughed. The girls decided they wanted to go play with the chicks some more (I forgot to mention those!), so I asked to take them and watch them.

A little side note here. We don’t live on a farm, but my parents do, and I grew up in the country. My daughter visits my parents. Around Easter, my mom got us about a dozen chicks to have for a bit. We took them to my daughter’s preschool and to Cubbies (Awana) – and I thus became known as the Chicken Lady. The chicks lived with us for 2 weeks (in the garage) before going back to live with Grandma. My daughter knows how to catch, hold, carry, pick up, and care for chicks, and has for a while. Those chicks are now full grown and laying eggs, by the way. Side note over.

IMG_5289Anyway, back to the chicks. So I take the two new best friends to see the chicks. It was like a hot box in their little room (they like the heat when small). My daughter starts giggling, chasing the chicks around, picking them up, handing them to me, passing them to her new friend (who is afraid to hold them), and trying to find the one special gray one. The other little girl (city folk) was worried the chick would “bite” her or that the claws would scratch her. She was scared to pet one, let alone try to pick one up, despite reassurances that it was fine.

After a few minutes of the three of us with the chicks, the girl’s grandma joined us. Within about ten seconds, she started worrying about my daughter and how she was behaving around the chicks:

“Let’s be careful!”
“Be gentle!”
“Watch where we’re stepping!”
“Oh, oh, oh, go slowly!”
“I don’t know if you should…”

Now these comments could have been directed towards her granddaughter, but she was walking around like she was in a minefield, and certainly wasn’t picking up the chicks unless my daughter was throwing* them at her (accompanied by me saying, “You know, she may not want to hold one,” “Ask first,” or “let her get her own.”).

After about a minute in there with us, poor grandma looked like she was about to faint. She took the other little girl out – because of the heat. Now it’s entirely possible that the heat could have been the reason, but it’s equally possible she just couldn’t handle my demon child torturing those poor chicks while this mom stood idly by. I could have explained that my kid knew what she was doing, I suppose, but the grandma was so politely corrective, and didn’t really ask, and left so quickly – there just wasn’t time. Ah, well, I guess she’ll never know.

We stayed a bit later and chatted, then headed home for a lovely sunset drive down the mountains. What a beautiful, fun day.

*I don’t literally mean throwing.

Jake and the Neverland Pirate Party

Standard
My Daughter playing pirate

My Daughter playing pirate

For my daughter’s 4th birthday she really wanted a Jake party. Actually, we gave her a choice: Minnie, princesses, My Little Pony, or Jake (my husband tried to offer Dora, Handy Manny or Diego, but how do you decorate for those without just buying the licensed stuff? No thanks!)

Anyway, she chose Jake, and I was super excited! I love pirate stuff! I headed to pinterest to get some ideas – check out my pirate party board here. I didn’t use all the ideas I found because there were just too many! Some of the stuff I made took a little figuring since I found the idea, but not the how-to, so I’ll be adding that (as I add my back-dated posts), but all that work was totally worth it. Not only did I decorate the outside, I made a few decorations for the inside tables and counters – not that people were hanging out there, but guests had to pass those areas to get to the backyard. Here are some of my favorite photos from her party:

Find the Buried Treasure

My favorite part was playing Find the Treasure. My daughter has a sandbox, so I bought a ton of gold doubloons here, as well as necklaces, bracelets, bouncy balls, and some sea creature squirter toys at the dollar store, then buried them. I gave the kids each a bag, then said, “Okay, find a necklace. Find a bracelet. Find a ball. Find a sea creature. Find 5 gold doubloons. Okay, now whatever else you find is yours!” And then they went crazy. They got to keep whatever they found as their party favors. Less that $15 to get a really fun game and really fun favors for a ton of kids.

Ring the hook (more details in another post to come) and the food station (before food) with a “Make Yer Own Treasure” station below for the kids.

Ring the Hook    IMG_1432

Ship for play and photos. I used a tri-fold presentation board from Michaels – plus a bunch of props, dress-up and Halloween costumes. Plus the walk the plank – made from a long beam and a couple extra pieces of wood.

Dress up   walk the plank

The main characters – drawn on white poster board. (Captain Hook is in the first picture.)

IMG_1606 - Copy IMG_1605 - Copy IMG_1604 - Copy

Her cake – a bunch of cupcakes with blue and chocolate frosting. The chocolate has smashed Oreo crumbs. Super easy to make. Also, signs in the front yard. Made from scrap wood I had laying around.

IMG_1465  IMG_1611

The Pirate flag was going to fly, but we tied it between shade that was already up to provide a bit more shade. Sold here. Plus the Pirate Banner – awesome because it was 100 feet! It covered our whole backyard for less than $7. Sold here.

IMG_1615 - Copy IMG_1483

And a bunch of the random decorations we had lying around that I cobbled together into pirate-y atmosphere.

IMG_1548 IMG_1551 IMG_1542 IMG_1537

IMG_1539IMG_1540

This was one of the most fun parties we’ve ever had – for both kids and adults! 🙂

 

Lost Lovey

Standard

While I was on my church retreat and my husband was on his work retreat last weekend, our parents watched our daughter  (Yes, both – they took turns.) Somewhere in the transfer process, my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal – her Kitty – got lost. We have NO IDEA where it disappeared to. Luckily the weekend went fine because she was so distracted by family, but when we got back, the first thing she wanted at bedtime was Kitty. As soon as I had found out (my husband was still at work), I searched for an hour and a half – no luck. Then he got home, and we both looked for another hour – no luck. The next day my MIL came over and we looked for 2 hours together – no luck. Everyone searched the bags and the one place they stopped was called – no luck.

All week when she asked for Kitty, I told her Kitty was missing and I couldn’t find her – that Kitty must have gone on vacation. I also gave her a different stuffed animal (Mousie) and told her that Mousie went on the retreat with me and missed home and needed extra hugs. That worked for a few days, but every night there were questions about Kitty and every morning as well. None of us slept well, and all of us dreamed about Kitty, including the grandparents.

new kittyWe were gone Fri-Sun and our daughter got back Mon. We luckily found a replacement kitty on ebay on Tuesday. New Kitty arrived today. I was VASTLY worried that my daughter would look at new Kitty and say, “THIS ISN’T KITTY!” throw it across the room, and burst into tears. This luckily wasn’t the case.

Here was the plan: I washed new Kitty a couple times in the hopes of making new Kitty look a little more worn. (Old Kitty was as old as my daughter!) I even tried a bit of bleach. None of these worked – New Kitty looked very very new. Finally we decided to say Kitty went to the spa and got a new dress. I went out to ‘check the clothes’ and called out our daughter:

Me: Look what I found.

S: KITTY!

Me: Yay!

S: Why was Kitty in the drier?

Me: She must have been stuck in with your clothes.

S: She’s so clean!

Me: She had a bath! That’s why she was in the drier – she was so dirty! Look, she got a new dress too!

S: Yeah. (Pause. I hold my breath.) I love Kitty! YAY!

 

Crisis averted. She made us all give Kitty hugs and kisses and made me promise not to put Kitty in the washer again.